Cancer patients in Bradford are waiting longer to start life-saving treatment, worrying new figures show.

About one in seven people suspected of having the disease is failing to get an appointment with a specialist within two months of a referral by their GP.

The proportion of patients beginning treatment within 62 days dropped sharply at both local NHS Trusts in the first three months of 2014.

And that puts them close to breaching a key Government target which requires 85 per cent of patients to be seen within two months.

Eighty-six per cent of patients began treatment within 62 days at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – down from 93.1 per cent one year earlier.

Airedale NHS Trust performed slightly better at 87.3 per cent, but that was also a steep decline on the figure of 93.9 per cent for January to March 2013.

Across England, just 84.4 per cent of patients hit the 62-day target, which meant the NHS breached the target for the first time since the benchmark was introduced in 2009.

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s health spokesman, said: “David Cameron claimed his NHS re-organisation would improve cancer care. The reality is that he has in fact made it worse.

“Families across England are now facing longer, agonising waits for treatment. Experts are now warning that lives will be put at risk.”

But the Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust dismissed suggestions of gathering problems, insisting such figures were “always susceptible to changes in supply and demand”.

It said more patients were choosing to delay their treatments and pointed both an increase in referrals and “late referrals from other trusts which we are working with colleagues to improve”.

A spokesman added: “The breast cancer team, in particular, have delivered a large volume of additional clinics to manage these pressures and minimise risk to patients.”

Stacey Hunter, director of operations at Airedale Trust said: “We continue to meet and exceed the national targets for patients with cancer starting treatment within 62 days of referral by a GP, which is good news.

“There will always be some fluctuation in the overall percentages due to differences in individual patients’ general health and their diagnosis.”

A Department of Health spokesman said an extra £750m had been pumped into early cancer treatment, but urged health chiefs to tackle “any dips in local performance”.